Certified NSAI Songwriter Pepper Stevens comes from a true southern background in the heart of dixie, Savannah, Ga. A multi-talented instrumentalist and lyricist with roots in rock, folk, country, and blues, Pepper is related down the line to Cat Stevens and Stephen Foster, he has influences that range from the Beatles and Led Zeppelin to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Seether. He prides himself on being able to step outside the box to be creative in ways most cannot or refuse to. He is an independent artist pushing every boundary thrown his way and certainly not afraid to speak his mind and share his feelings through his musical abilities. He has several albums out and numerous singles available as well. His music is very popular in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. and can be found on just about every digital platform out there to date.
- How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?
Pepper Stevens: I have been playing music full time since 2012 and I got started by simply writing what I felt in a diary so to speak from the age of twelve and up to this present day, which led to my getting involved with a band as a vocalist.
- Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
Pepper Stevens: I remember my first glance at music was the White album by the Beatles. However, when I watched Pearl Jam’s Unplugged show I knew that was what I wanted to do for a living.
- Which instrument do you play and use to compose your songs?
Pepper Stevens: I am self taught on guitar and pretty much any other instrument I pick up, but I use the guitar to begin just about every song I have written.
- Describe the first piece of musical equipment that you actually purchased with your own money. And which is the one piece of hardware or software you’re still looking to add to your collection now?
Pepper Stevens: The first musical tools I bought myself were a pack of pencils and a pad of paper. That is where it all began for me. It was further down the road before I bought my first guitar. As far as software or hardware that I am pursuing to buy, well I am always looking to buy anything I can get my hands on that has to do with music.
- Tell us something about your current hardware/software and instrument setup?
Pepper Stevens: I play a lot of acoustic shows so I have an acoustic/electric Gibson Epiphone cut out that I love to play and a simple two-way amp with a microphone stand and microphone. I do use garage band to my advantage as far as recording and mixing but will be upgrading to Pro Tools soon.
- Studio work and music creation, or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?
Pepper Stevens: I love both honestly. I enjoy the studio time where there isn’t pressure to perform and you can just let the creative juices flow but I do love playing live and having that energy from the crowd of fans. It stimulates me and I get off on that pure energy.
- Which one of your original songs gets your adrenalin pumping the most right now?
Pepper Stevens: Take A Stand I would have to say gets my blood boiling the most because it has taken on a political bent and a lot of people have spoken to me about it and said it helped them to just say the hell with being politically correct and gave them push they needed to take a stand for what they believe in. That gives me great satisfaction.
- On which one of your songs do you feel you delivered your personal best performance so far, from a technical point of view?
Pepper Stevens: Drawing on the Walls, which is the title song to my newest album, is one I am extremely proud of. Truthfully, I do not worry too much about editing or being spot on. I’m just me and that is what matters. If I am true to myself then my fans will see and feel that.
- Which ingredient (or trademark sound) do you think is most essential in making your music sound the way it does?
Pepper Stevens: My influences range from the 50’s to the present day so I do not put myself in one category or genre. I play and sing what I feel no matter if it’s rock, blues, country, soul, etc. I try to always be open minded and step outside of the box that is inside whatever other box there is at the time.
- If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to stay in this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride and why?
Pepper Stevens: It is simply my love for music, where all of my emotions can be released in any way I decide to release them. It is freedom.
- Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
Pepper Stevens: There is nothing easy about being an independent artist. It is one of the most challenging things I have ever faced but I do it full speed ahead. What discourages me the most is the uncertainty of technology. If the human element is not there then I do not consider it true music cause anyone can suck ass as a singer or instrumentalist and someone can level a computer out to make them sound like the best singer or player in the world. I would rather play live in or out of a studio and completely fuck up rather than have my voice changed. The people want something real to hear, they need to know you are just as normal and as human as they are. Dave Grohl makes that statement very clear in every lecture or speech he gives and I totally agree with him.
- Tell us something about your songwriting, recording and production processes. Is it all you, or do you outsource?
Pepper Stevens: Mostly done by myself, but I do collaborate with a few people occasionally. For instance, a friend of mine who wants to remain unknown is working with me on a side project called Alter The Cause, which we have released two singles for already and are shooting for mid December to release the entire self titled album.
- What is the title of your latest release and where can fans find it?
Pepper Stevens: Kill Joy Radio is playing three of my singles from my new album, “Drawing on the Walls”. You can find all of my music at http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/PepperStevens and all over the digital world such as Amazon and iTunes.
- The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
Pepper Stevens: The only answer for that is that there is no answer. Just be yourself and do what only you can do. Make music cause you love it, not cause you want to be rich and famous. If you are good enough then everything will fall into place.
- At this point, as an independent artist, which is the one factor you desire most, and feel will undeniably benefit the your future (for example increased music distribution, better quality production, more media exposure, bigger live gigs etc…)?
Pepper Stevens: All of the above really, too much is never a bad thing. Being that CDs and Vinyl are almost extinct the most vital way to earn even a small living in the music business is for people to buy your music wherever they can and play every gig you can get. Never pay to play, that is just stupid shit where someone else is making money off of you and you will not even see royalties a majority of the time. Been there and done that one.
- Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your career, and indie music in general?
Pepper Stevens: In this day and age all social media is vital to your success, but do not go on some T.V. show contest just so they can say you suck. It is okay to suck, hell everyone sucks until they have practiced and put the time and effort into learning their craft no matter what you do for a living.
- Is the music you produced on your album, “Drawing on the Walls”, exactly how you expect your sound to be right now? Or in retrospect, would you go back and change anything on, or about the album in anyway?
Pepper Stevens: The album turned out better than I actually expected it to. The one thing I would love to do someday is break some of those songs down to pure acoustics and do a tour where they can be heard by more of a variety of fans and people around the world. Also, I would like to be able to tell the full story behind every song on that album in front of a live audience sort of like a storytellers type deal.
- What do you think is the biggest barrier you have to face and overcome as an indie alternative rock artist, in your quest to achieve your goals and wider-spread success?
Pepper Stevens: The biggest obstacle is getting your music onto all radio platforms so that you can possibly be ranked on the real charts. Not the fake online charts such as, um…., Reverbnation. Record labels are extremely hard to talk to and rarely do your songs get heard if you send in anything to them so I suggest going straight to radio first and get the local newspapers involved and other resources as best you can. Seether did it, so why can’t anyone else. They were on radio long before they got signed.
- Let’s imagine that you were given the opportunity to be in any world-famous band of your choice right now, who would that band be, and why?
Pepper Stevens: Honestly, that is the hardest question to answer. I would love to work with Pearl Jam, Seether, Halestorm, Chris Cornell, and Keith Urban. There are so many I could name. Hell, I would love to just sit down as two normal people and have a conversation with Eddie Vedder.
- What is the ONE thing you are NOT ever willing or prepared to do, in your quest to achieve a successful musical career?
Pepper Stevens: I will not change who I am and what I stand for. If I can’t be myself and have the freedom to do so then it isn’t worth it. I am all for debate because it is healthy but when it comes down to reality, I won’t change my views anymore than Obama will stop being President. God knows we all wish that would happen. LMFAO!